A hearing into the $163.5 million rate hike request that Oklahoma Gas and Electric has agreed to lower to $45 million involved a second full day of testimony pro and con before an Oklahoma Corporation Commission judge.
Administrative Law Judge Linda Foreman heard from a long string of witnesses presented not only by OG&E but other groups including those who contend the utility should not be allowed to raise any rates at all. At the end of the day, the groups indicated they intended to present more witnesses in a third day of testimony scheduled to begin Wednesday at 8:30 a.m.
A new Joint Stipulation and Settlement Agreement was introduced into the case, one involving OG&E and the Petroleum Alliance of Oklahoma. The agreement was reached after the Petroleum Alliance had opposed the original rate hike and raised questions about the utility’s commitment to review its risk management plan as promised in a ratepayer backed bond package aimed at recovering 2021 Winter storm costs.
In the agreement, OG&E agreed to initiate a stakeholder conference within 45 days of any Corporation Commission approval.
“It will include all parties and we will provide an opportunity for the parties to this cause to be invited,” explained Donald Rowlett, an official with OG&E. “I envision it as a single event.”
The stakeholder conference will involve discussion of the methods used by OG&E to mitigate costs to consumers of electric generation fuel source price volatility and available—issues for which the utility was criticized during its effort to win the approval of regulators to increase rates to cover storm costs.
Much of the afternoon focused on the testimony of consultant David Hedrick who represented the Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives. The OAEC opposed any rate hike settlement.
“There are problems with it,” stated Hedrick who testified there are inequities in the rates charged by OG&E for its 24 one megawatt customers.
“Five of them have never been over a megawatt,” he said under questioning, adding he felt the $45 million increased sought by OG&E was “unjustified” and that “it is not fair and reasonable.”
More detailed questions were raised by various organizations whose attorneys were present for a second day in the Corporation Commission courtroom. Throughout the day, Corporation Commissioners Dana Murphy, Todd Hiett and Bob Anthony attended portions of the testimony and asked their own questions.
At the end of the day, the various groups indicated they intend to call three to four more attorneys. It will mean a third day of testimony on which Judge Foreman has told the attorneys, she intends to review in detail before making a recommendation to the full Corporation Commission.
The hearing is scheduled to resume at 8:30 a.m.